By Anton Usov
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the government of Kazakhstan have agreed an Enhanced Partnership Framework Arrangement (EPFA) to boost the resilience, modernisation, digitalisation and regional integration of the national economy, with a view to speeding its recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The five-year agreement, which will remain in place until December 2025, was signed by EBRD Head of Kazakhstan Agris Preimanis and Kazakh Minister of National Economy Aset Irgaliyev. The virtual ceremony was attended by Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Askar Mamin and EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso.
The EBRD President said: “This arrangement signals that Kazakhstan and the EBRD are ready to look beyond the current turmoil and are committed to continuing their successful cooperation in areas that are vital to the national economy. We look forward to working with our Kazakh counterparts on the reform agenda and on the investment projects we will identify together.”
The EPFA builds on a previous agreement signed in 2017, which contributed to the creation of Kazakhstan’s green, gender-responsive and inclusive economy. It helped to improve the competitiveness of local companies, brought investments into infrastructure and cemented Kazakhstan’s position as a regional leader in renewable energy in Central Asia.
The new EPFA will foster greater cooperation on the promotion of sustainable development and growth in Kazakhstan and foresees joint activities in the following areas:
- developing the resilience of Kazakhstan’s economy by supporting the private sector and attracting foreign direct investment
- promoting a green, inclusive and gender-responsive economy and its enhanced digitalization
- supporting the country’s further integration into the regional and global economy through investments in infrastructure, energy and general industry projects
- promoting the decarbonisation of the energy sector and Kazakhstan’s alignment with the Paris Agreement by financing renewable generation projects and creating the necessary legal framework
- developing modern transport and municipal infrastructure across Kazakhstan by introducing new operational models, including public-private partnerships (PPPs)
- enhancing the role of Kazakhstan’s banking sector, including for the support of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
- developing new financial products, including the promotion of sustainable bonds as instruments for green financing, in close cooperation with the Astana International Finance Centre
- providing pre-privatisation support to selected state-owned enterprises.
To date, the EBRD has invested more than US$ 7.95 billion in the economy of Kazakhstan through 280 projects. Supporting small businesses is particularly important to the EBRD and in line with its country strategy for Kazakhstan.